Spotlight on “Film, Sand and Space” - Visit Alamogordo, New Mexico

06/26/2015  | 

The Little Joe II rocket stands proudly next to the New Mexico Museum of Space History and is a favorite photo opportunity for visitors. It’s purpose was to test the Apollo launch escape system and it was launched from White Sands Missile Range.

Ready for vacation adventures found only in southern New Mexico? Mark those maps this year to travel to the southern part of the state of New Mexico. Located in south central New Mexico in Otero County, the city of Alamogordo in the heart of the Tularosa Basin is one of the most iconic locations in the southwestern United States. This natural basin is the product of an ancient underwater geological dome that collapsed as seas receded from landmasses to form the basin, which is surrounded by three distinct mountain ranges.

Alamogordo was founded just before the turn of the 19th century and it is the very first planned community in the United States. It is located as the nearest neighbor city to the ever-changing and glistening dunes of the sparkling White Sands National Monument and has undeniably become its host city. Other natural area attractions include: Oliver Lee Memorial State Park, Three Rivers Petroglyphs and the Lincoln National Forest.

The entire basin is full of history steeped in the Old West heritage of the days of “Billy the Kid” and the “Badlands of New Mexico.” Western cowboys, ranching history and area artifacts can be found in Alamogordo at the Tularosa Basin Historical Society Museum. The local culture is a rich tapestry woven from these authentic life experiences and diverse pioneer cultures in an exquisite setting of natural beauty. Another historic city favorite is the Alameda Park Zoo adjacent to the museum. It is the oldest zoo in the southwest and was established on the main street beside the railway in 1898 for the area citizens and visitors.

There is much to see and much more to do in the area for the active lifestyle adventurer. Visitors here can hike and bike the trails of the High-Chijuajuan desert with the majestic backdrop of the Sacramento Mountains. Travelers can enter those same mountains through the nearby High Rolls Tunnel into the Lincoln National Forest where they can drink in the quiet beauty of tall pines while exploring, skiing or simply wandering beautiful mountain trails. Photographers, filmmakers and adventure-seekers can visit nearby Native American lands and casinos or tour local wineries and lush pistachio groves on easy day trips throughout the area to savor the mild climate and crystal blue skies with magnificent sunrises and sunsets.

The area has a special connection to military research. Space travel and exploration are ongoing endeavors and this history and research done in southern New Mexico is on display for an interactive experience at the New Mexico Museum of Space History and its IMAX movie theater. Visitors to the museum can admire exhibits, learn about and view space race relics and memorabilia and even guide and land the space shuttle in the amazing flight training simulator. In the entrance courtyard to the museum, there is opportunity to take pictures while sitting in the seat of a space capsule on display there. Amazing and informative science-based entertainment feature films are a part of the everyday show time schedule for viewing at the Clyde W. Tombaugh IMAX Theater at the space museum complex.

A critical component of America’s race to space in the late 50s and early 60s were the assets of the United States Army; particularly in southern New Mexico, where White Sands Proving Ground — now White Sands Missile Range — was the testing facility for all the missiles and rockets that would shape the future of world spaceflight. From Wernher von Braun’s tests with the V-2 rocket at White Sands following World War II, to the developmental testing of the Nike Ajax and Hercules missiles, as well as flight tests of the Little Joe II Apollo launch escape system, White Sands Missile Range truly earned its name as the birthplace of America’s space and rocket program.

The New Mexico Museum of Space History’s John P. Stapp Air and Space Park proudly displays several artifacts tracing the Missile Range’s history in space exploration, such as the Little Joe II standing tall next to the museum building, a Nike Ajax missile and launcher, and the remnants of a V-2 engine tail piece. Inside the museum, a WAC Corporal missile is highlighted on the “Rockets and Engines” floor. Inside the Daisy Track Exhibit, several integral parts of the Delta Clipper Experimental are on display. Both were tested at the Army’s White Sands Missile Range.

Find history, culture and adventure at Alamogordo and its area attractions. Mark day-trips on a New Mexico map and come on out to see and discover the Tularosa Basin. With “350 Days of Sunshine” there is the perfect climate and ample opportunity to experience natural beauty and explore all there is time to see and do in New Mexico’s Land of Enchantment.

When booking reservations check for the military discounts offered by this military-friendly community. True adventures await the active traveler and guest in New Mexico.
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